As the outlook for the global economy remains bleak for 2023, a split is emerging between companies that are optimistic about what’s ahead and those more downbeat about the future – but they’re nearly unanimous in their belief that they can weather the storms, according to new research by JP Morgan.

In its annual Business Leaders Outlook, the bank surveyed over 2,000 senior executives at midsize companies in Australia, France, Germany, India, the UK and the US. It found that although all businesses are being impacted by common themes of geopolitical and economic headwinds, perceptions vary hugely between markets as to whether things are getting better or worse.

The majority of midsize businesses in Europe feel that supply chain issues have worsened over the past year, with 63% of respondents from the UK and France and 57% of respondents from Germany saying pressures had increased.

In contrast, most respondents in Australia, the US and India felt that things were either improving or staying the same. India’s businesses were the most optimistic, with 47% saying that supply chain pressures had eased off over the past 12 months, largely because they’d managed to add new suppliers from new geographies and shift manufacturing and distribution closer to key markets.

Perceptions also varied as to just how gloomy the economic picture will be over the coming months. In Australia, less than half (46%) of local business leaders expect a recession this year, a cheerier take than that of their counterparts in the UK (69%), US (65%), India (61%), Germany (59%) and France (53%).

Nonetheless, across the board, most are upbeat about their business performance. Almost all Indian midsize business leaders expect their revenues to rise this year, as do nearly nine in 10 from the UK and around three-quarters of those from Australia. Although those in the US, Germany and France are slightly more pessimistic, companies expecting an upswing are still in the majority.

“While businesses may be cautious in their economic outlooks, their actions display a focus on growth,” says John Simmons, the bank’s head of middle market banking and specialised industries. “Businesses are signalling that they’re practiced in being nimble and prepared for several different scenarios, which are keys to operating effectively in today’s economy.”

These actions include the allocation of more funds to cover increased costs related to moving products – a strategy that almost half of German businesses are employing – or near-shoring production, which 42% of UK business are doing, up 12% from 2022. Meanwhile, despite the negative impacts on the working capital cycle of holding excess inventory, a third of UK respondents said that they’d also turned to stockpiling to boost their resilience.

“British business leaders are pragmatic and are having to make strategic decisions with challenging choices given the current cards dealt and what’s expected ahead,” says Vis Raghavan, JP Morgan’s CEO of Emea.

Overall, although businesses may not be in full agreement about the extent to which stubbornly high inflation, rising energy prices and strained supply chains are affecting the global economic outlook, the JP Morgan survey reveals that sentiment remains high. With the upheaval of the last few years giving them a strong grounding in dealing with heightened uncertainty, businesses remain convinced about their ability to succeed.